In the early morning hours of December 18, 1812, the cacophony of combat echoed across the Mississinewa River. Lt. Colonel J.B. Campbell and his beleaguered Dragoons found themselves assaulted by an outnumbered but desperate band of Miami Indian warriors. There would be no winners on this bloody day. After an intense battle that lasted for one hour, the Dragoons were left with a dozen men dead, 75 men wounded, and more than 100 horses slain.
The Indians fared no better, though their numbers could not be accurately calculated. Lt. Colonel Campbell estimated their casualties to be between 30 and 50, though historians consider this to be boastful on his part. The battle would be remembered as one of the most significant chapters in the War of 1812, and certainly one of the most remarkable and dramatic events in the history of Grant County.
It was a day of bloody deeds that forever left its mark on the field of battle, tainting the landscape for all time. After nearly 200 years, the banks of the Mississinewa are still marked by the spirits of the fallen warriors of both sides of the conflict. The battle site is now home to an annual battle reenactment and a popular camping site for those who make Miami and Grant County their home.
It has been reported by those brave enough to camp through the night that the sounds of battle still reverberate through the woods. As one camper stated:
“One night back in 1992, I was camping back by the battle site when I got woken up by what I thought were firecrackers. Hell, I could smell the sulfur. Then I saw the smoky fog along the river and heard the sound of running feet in the water. I swear, it was like the smoke from a muzzleloader, man. I packed up and got the heck out of there.”
Other campers have reported similar sounds, as well as the additional cacophony of war cries, presumably from the Native Americans who lost their lives in the battle. Cassie M. added:
“You can hear their voices. You can’t make out what they’re saying, but it’s there, whispering through the trees. You never feel alone. It’s like there is always something there beside you. Every time I’m out there, it raises the hair on my arms.”
Written by — Bob Freeman Senior Investigator, Nightstalkers of Indiana
STATE ROAD 15
SEVEN MILES NORTH OF MARION, INDIANA